Section 11 | Position of Minor : Indian Contract Act 1972

Position of Minor

The Indian Contract Act of 1872 specifies that all parties must be of legal age and mental capacity before entering into a contract. “Every person is competent to contract who is of the age of majority according to the law to which he is subject, and who is of sound mind, and who is not disqualified by law to which he is subject,” states Section 11 of the Contract Act.

According to this provision, the following individuals are legally unable to enter into a binding agreement:

  • Minors
  • Persons with mental impairments (no.
  • Restrictions imposed by law

The age of majority is a legal prerequisite for entering into a binding contract, and a minor cannot legally enter into such an agreement.

Who Are the Minors?

A person who has not reached the legal majority age is considered to be a minor under applicable laws. The legal minimum age varies depending on the country’s legal system. The Indian Majority Act, of 1875 states that in India, the age of majority is reached at the age of 18, with the exception of cases where a guardian has been appointed by the court, in which case the age is set at 21. It should be noted, though, that the Indian Majority Act of 1875 has been changed, and the age of the majority is now 18 years old, regardless of whether a guardian has been named for the minor. The bill in this regard has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament but the President’s assent is yet to be attained.

Whether Minors Agreement is Voidable or Void Altogether?

Section 10 of the Contract Act talks about the competency of the parties and Section 11 talks about persons who are not allowed to enter into a contract. Neither section makes it certain, what will be the consequences of a minor entering into an agreement, whether it would be voidable at his option or altogether void. The Privy Council finally resolved this controversy in the year 1903 through the landmark case of Mohori bibi vs Dharmodas Ghose.

What Consequences Will the Minors Agreement Have?

A minor’s agreement is regarded as void, therefore neither party should be required to carry out any obligations under it, and its effects are likewise null. Would there be any estoppel against a youngster who misrepresented his age in order to trick someone into signing a contract with him?

No Estoppel against a minor-

The question of estoppel against the minor raised a legal difficulty among the authorities. Estoppel means, if a person makes a statement that misleads another person, he cannot deny the same statement in the future when his obligation in respect of his statement arises. In the Mohori bibi case, the defendant misrepresented his age in order to mortgage his house but the moneylender was already aware of the fact that the defendant was a minor.

The doctrine of Restitution-

If a minor gains property or goods by falsely representing his age, he can be compelled to restitute it, but only if the same is traceable. The Courts may, on the ground of equity, ask the minor to return his ill-gotten gains as he cannot have under the guard of infancy liberty to cheat. Restitution cannot be applied in cases where it becomes difficult to trace the goods or the minor has acquired cash instead of goods.

In the well-known case of Leslie (R) Ltd v. Sheill, a youngster deceived some money-lenders by falsely claiming his age and convincing them that he was an adult, convincing them to lend him the sum of £ 400. There is no estoppel against the minor, so the plaintiff’s attempt to obtain the principal sum and interest as compensation for deception was unsuccessful. The money lenders also used the idea of restitution in their argument that the juvenile should be held accountable under equitable grounds for returning the money. In dismissing this argument, Lord Sumner stated that the defendant (minor) spent the funds for personal expenses. There is no means to find the money and no way to get it back because doing so would result in enforcing a void contract.

What Will Be the Liability of a Minor for Necessaries?

A minor will have liability for necessities. The word “necessaries” is not defined in the Act. A minor is also accountable for the necessary services rendered to him like- the provision of education, medical facilities, or legal advice. If a minor is provided with the necessaries and if he already has an ample amount of supply of that necessary item, then the minor is not liable to reimburse the supplier and the price is irrecoverable.

According to the Indian Contract Act of 1872, a minor is not allowed to enter into a deal, and such a contract would be null and void from the start. When the minor reaches majority, he or she cannot count on the contract he or she entered into while still a minor being ratified. Ratification dates back to a time when the individual was still a minor, therefore a contract that was already void cannot be rendered valid afterward. After reaching the age of majority, a new contract with a fresh consideration may be made if necessary. A minor’s agreement cannot also be called for particular performance because doing so would mean carrying out a null agreement.

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